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Packer's Perspective: Moving forward

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It was a big weekend for the team as we swept the Lindenwood Lady Lions and continue on to our goal at the end of the season. We had three ladies with their first Badger goals this weekend, and I caught up with them to get their take on what that felt like. 

"Scoring my first badger goal was an amazing feeling," freshman forward Mikayla Johnson said. "Hearing that horn go off and celebrating with my teammates was a memory I'll never forget." 

The celebration following the goal was pretty unique, and sophomore forward Rachel Jones, who made a beautiful backdoor pass on the play to assist MJ's goal, may have been the most excited person in the building. It was cool to watch our team get excited for one another, and shows the unity and support that makes this group such a strong unit.

Another Badger scoring both Friday and Saturday night to record her first and second goal as a Badger was freshman defenseman Mellissa Channell. Channey and I go way back to our days playing in Detroit with Little Caesars and it was nice to see her get a few points this weekend. Both goals were nice shots from the point, and when asked about her goal, she has a funny story that will make this a memory much like MJ's.

 "I remember right before going out that shift I asked Paul (Hickman) if I could use my backup stick, as many people always blame not scoring on the stick, so I just thought a chance would help," Channell said. "That next shift I get a beautiful pass from Bergy (senior defenseman Natalie Berg) and scored. It was an exhilarating experience, and what makes it better is that my mom was there to see it." 

A nice goal, and a good team play that helped make this moment special for Channell, and we look forward to more contributions from her this season.

The third Badger with her first goal this weekend was sophomore forward Katy Harding. Her goal came late in the game Saturday night and was the result of a good forecheck all around, but she declined to comment and was unavailable for a face to face interview as she has been hiding in her apartment as a result of being swarmed by paparazzi since the goal.

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Following the game, the team got together for a little innocent fun. We had a costume party with the team at senior Stefanie McKeough's house. As many know Stef has been sidelined due to injury for a few years now, but she is a great part of our team chemistry and is a mature leader in the locker room as she has been constantly supporting and guiding the team. The top costumes of the night were the Hanson brother's made up of Mikayla Johnson, Katarina Zgraja, and Stef McKeough and also the classy biker chicks, comprised of Alex Rigsby, Natalie Berg and Kelly Jaminski. Blayre Turnbull also had an awesome homemade cotton candy costume that she constructed out of a pillow and some spray paint. The freshmen were each a different color glow stick, which was a cute idea, but the Hanson brothers and biker ladies showed them up with more creativity in the final polls of best costume.

The get together was a relaxing and fun event to top off a successful weekend, as we had to quickly turn around and refocus to prepare for Ohio State. This is a big weekend for our team as Ohio State is ranked No. 10 in the country and will be a good test for us moving forward. This weekend is the last of games before a weekend off and we hope to finish the home stretch off with a couple wins. The ladies are focused in and preparing for this upcoming weekend and we hope to see you all out to cheer us on in this final leg of our long home stand. Tune in later this week for more updates and thoughts going in to this weekend. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: Game day vs. Lindenwood

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It's game day here in Madison and the girls are excited for another weekend to get better. We face off against Lindenwood tonight at 7 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. The games are an opportunity for us to play some games out of conference and to see some new competition other than the typical WCHA play that we are accustomed to. 
 
"Lindenwood will be a good test for us to see how far we can push ourselves even though they aren't a typical rival," junior forward Katy Josephs said. "The weekend will be fun to keep building chemistry in our lines and as a team." 

Fellow forward, and freshman Mikayla Johnson had similar comments about the upcoming series. 

"I am excited for our team to get another weekend not only to play at home but to get better and grow as a team," Johnson said. "Every weekend brings something new and I'm looking forward to what this weekend has to bring."

The team as a whole is looking forward to the games this weekend as they will be yet another test of how we have gotten better from last weekend. We use each week as time to learn from previous games and push ourselves to make sure we are always moving forward on the journey to our ultimate goal. The team has done a great job of staying focused this week and we are looking forward to hitting the ice for another series of games at home. We hope to see all of our fans out at LaBahn Arena this weekend. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Packer's Perspective: Another step forward

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This weekend was a success for the Badger squad, and we had a lot of contributions across the board. Freshman goaltender Ann-Renee Debiens got her first start between the pipes, and also earned herself a shutout in her first collegiate game, so congrats to her on a successful start to what we all believe will be a promising career here at UW. 

The weekend was good, and it was nice to get two more wins as a group as we continue on our journey to the finish line this season. This weekend we are gearing up to face Lindenwood, and much like previous weeks, we are back to work. Monday is what Coach Johnson likes to call workday. It is a day that is usually finished with 8-10 minutes of skating, working to keep our conditioning up. It is never too grueling, but enough to get us moving and get the heart rates up a bit. 

This weekend was also the first weekend that we were able to use our heart rate monitoring system. This is an awesome perk that we are able to use and we are grateful to our staff for getting it up and running for the season. We all wear heart rate monitors during lifting sessions, practices and games.  

The monitors send information to a little hub, that kind of looks like a tiny spaceship, which is located behind our bench. The hub then relays this information to a computer where it is stored and we are able to check our results after the game. This system is nice because it enables us to see how much we worked during a game, and also track how many calories we burned so we are able to properly refuel our bodies and be ready to go the next day. This system is awesome, and is definitely a tool that will continue to help us as we improve throughout the season.

The team is looking forward to another series at home this weekend, but first, we have a week of practice and preparing. We had a video session yesterday, and will have another power play video session today, where we learn from what worked for our team, and also look at breakdowns so we can improve moving forward. This group is always working to improve on areas that will make us better, and our willingness to adapt has been an advantage as we face new situations each weekend.

That's all for now, check back later in the week for a recap of this weeks practices and thoughts from players going into this weekend. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Packer's Perspective: Prepping for the Huskies

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It has been a busy week so far for the Badger girls. Many of us took advantage of the day off on Sunday to hang out and enjoy some down time. I went to Chicago to do a little shopping, while a number of my teammates enjoyed the outdoors, which spanned from exercise to a little apple picking. 

Two other activities that took place these last few weeks were the visit to the senior home and the much-anticipated visit to the Ronald McDonald House for pumpkin carving. Senior goaltender, Ilana Friedman was pretty excited about her experience when I asked her how the pumpkin carving went. 

"I was happy to return to the Ronald McDonald House for my third year of pumpkin carving," Friedman said. "Whether it's carving a motion W, a spider, or a Bucky pumpkin we had a blast and it was great to visit the community that supports us so much!" 

Blayre Turnbull and Brittany Ammerman visited the senior home, where they played bingo for a few hours with the ladies who always keep us laughing from visit to visit. Ammerman said it was nothing short of another entertaining visit. She lost five consecutive games to Ginny, an elderly woman at the home, and it is also rumored that some of the older women caught Turnbull hiding cards, but those rumors are yet to be confirmed.

The day off on Sunday was nice and much needed after the rough series against the Gophers. The team was disappointed with the outcome, but the nice thing about this group is that we are eager to learn and get better every day. Along with returning to the ice to prepare for St. Cloud State this coming weekend, we have been studying film to improve on the areas where we fell short last weekend. 

This upcoming series is a huge stepping stone for the team and will show our character as we hope to bounce back and earn a few points after last weekend's loss on the road. The team has done a great job of recovering, taking care of their bodies, and doing what is necessary to prepare for the upcoming games after last weekend's six high-tempo periods of hockey. The games this weekend will be a grind, much like the last, and we hope to show improvement as we hit the ice Friday night in search of a win. We hope to see all you fans out at LaBahn arena 7 p.m. Friday night as we take on the St. Cloud Huskies and continue on our journey this season. 

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Packer's Perspective: Back from the Border Battle

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This past weekend was a learning experience for the Badger squad. It would have been nice to walk away with a few points, but the team battled it out and we did a lot of good things during the series against Minnesota that will continue to help us grow and compete as a unit. Both games against the Golden Gophers were close and came down to the final horn, and we had a number of chances where we just came up a little short. 

It is always a long bus ride home after a loss, but the group is using the weekend of losses as an opportunity to learn and to continue to get better. We will put the losses behind us, enjoy a much needed day off today to rest and recover, and then go back to work Monday in preparation for St. Cloud State.

We are looking forward to the upcoming series at home. It will be nice to return home to Madison and play in front of our home crowd. I have a feeling that we will play with an extra spark after the losses to the Gophers.

The mentality of our group is great. Players are positive, recognize what we did well this past weekend, and are eager to hit the ice Monday to improve where we had breakdowns in order to make our team stronger as our journey together continues. We have a great group of girls, a ton of positivity, and I am excited to get back to work with the ladies on Monday.

Thank you to all fans who tuned in, and those who came out to support us. We hit the ice again this upcoming weekend to take on St. Cloud State at LaBahn Arena. We hope to build off this past weekend and make some good strides forward, in search of our final goal. Until next time, thanks for reading! 

On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Packer's Perspective: Gearing up for the Gophers

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The time is here. One of the most anticipated road trips of the year, and for us it is the first of many to come. We loaded the bus yesterday, and headed up to Minneapolis, participating in a post bus ride practice and then heading to check in at the hotel. Dinner was late, but we kept ourselves busy by playing an elementary game of "heads up seven up". It was a good team activity and kept our empty stomachs distracted as we waited for what turned out to be an awesome meal. Everyone turned in early last night, catching up on some sleep and getting mentally prepared for the games this weekend.

This morning we had a pregame skate, after which I caught up with a couple teammates and got their take on the weekend.

Sophomore forward, and a linemate of mine, Erika Sowchuk is excited for the high tempo game that is sure to come this evening. 

"I am looking forward to an exciting game tonight," Sowchuk said. "It's always an intense battle when we play the Gophers and I wouldn't expect anything less tonight. These kind of games are always the most fun."

Fellow sophomore forward, Rachel Jones, has similar thoughts regarding the border battle tonight. 

"Being able to play the in their first home game, and being able to give them a fight is something I am looking forward to," Jones said. "They are going to come out hard and want to win in front of their home crowd. It's going to be exciting because our team has been working extremely hard and it is going to be a great battle with our rival, and hopefully we can come out on top."

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The team mentality is summed up by the remarks of my fellow teammates. We're looking forward to a great atmosphere, ready for a grind, and hoping to come out on top. This weekend is sure to be action packed and full of excitement and our squad is ready to accept the challenge that we have been preparing for all off season. This weekend is a huge stepping stone for our team, and I look forward to making forward progress on our journey.

The puck drops at 6:07 tonight at Ridder Arena, and 4:07 p.m. tomorrow. We hope fans can follow the game from our live blog and cheer us on as we go to work against the Gophers. Tune in after the weekend for reactions.

Thanks for reading. On Wisconsin!

- Madison 

Packer's Perspective: Preparing for the Border Battle

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It was an exciting weekend for the team as we started the year off strong with a sweep of Minnesota State. There were a wide variety of contributions across the board, among the most exciting were goals scored by freshmen Sydney McKibbon and Sarah Nurse. These were the first goals of their NCAA careers, and I want to congratulate them on their success and contributions last weekend! The team as a whole performed very well. The group was excited, worked well together, and played with intensity both nights for the full sixty minutes.

The games were a good way to kick off the year, and the points earned from the first weekend sweep put us in the number one spot in the WCHA standings, and caused a bump in the USCHO poll to a tie for fourth with Cornell. Although these rankings don't mean much at the start of the year, it is always nice to see get an extra boost of confidence from the positive standings. As a group, we were pleased with our performance, but know the games over the weekend were just a start, and there is much work to be done.

The success from the weekend is something we will build on as we prepare to head to Minnesota this weekend to take on the Golden Gophers in Ridder Arena. The games are Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and the squad is certainly fired up for the road trip. Minneapolis is close enough that we will bus this weekend, leaving Thursday morning and returning Saturday night after the game. This is always a much anticipated road trip for many reasons, the most obvious being it is always exciting to face-off against the Gophs and play some solid hockey. This game comes earlier in the season than it typically has in the past, and we are anxious to head into the game Friday. We are prepared to leave it all on the ice. This weekend is a huge measuring point for us as a team, and will also be a great weekend to bring us closer together as a group. The weekend will take all individuals working together as a group to achieve our goal, and the team is looking forward to hitting the ice Friday night.

The first couple practices this week have been good. We have reviewed some film, worked on specifics, and dialed in to fine tune the various areas of our game that will enable us to find success this weekend. The series against the Gophers is just the next step along the journey for this Badger squad, and we hope to bring a few wins back to Madison. The Badgers are looking forward to the games this weekend, and hope to have the support of fans and followers as we head up to take on Minnesota in the Border Battle. Stay tuned for a post covering the first road trip of the season, and various Badgers expectations and emotions heading into the game Friday night.

Thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: Gearing up for the opening weekend

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The week is wrapping up and the Wisconsin women's hockey team is getting prepared to open the season off against Minnesota State. This week has been pretty uneventful, and the team is focused. 

The big hype for the team this week is the premier of Scandal on ABC that the team plans to watch together Thursday night. Other than that, practice has been our main concern and preparing ourselves for what is to come and the start of our journey. 

For this week, I talked to a few teammates and got their take on the upcoming weekend. This might be a shorter blog post than normal, but shows the emotions of my teammates who are excited and prepared to start climbing the mountain to the top come drop of the puck Friday. 

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Junior forward Blayre Turnbull has high expectations for her team this weekend, but also for the fans watching and cheering us on.

"The thing I'm most looking forward to this weekend is seeing all of our fans pack the arena," Turnbull said. "It is such a great feeling to be able to come onto the ice and see over 2000 fans in the stands. Hopefully we are able to feed off of their energy and give them a reason to keep on cheering throughout all six periods this weekend." 

Junior forward Karley Sylvester was another teammate I spoke with about the game, and she looks forward to starting the season Friday night. 

"I am really looking forward to starting the year off strong," Sylvester said. "I know the team has worked extremely hard in the off-season to be as prepared as we can. It is going be a fun to watch our team grow together as a family and accomplish great things along the way." 

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Another Badger excited to kick off the year is Brittany Ammerman. Fans are familiar with her absence in the lineup last year and she is looking forward to Friday night to resume her career. She enjoyed playing against Team Japan, but is anxious to start the season in hopes of a promising finish for the group. 

"It feels great to be back and be contributing to the team on the ice," Ammerman said while discussing the emotions of being back with the team. "Our game against Team Japan allowed our freshman to get their nerves out and feet wet and served the same purpose for me. After not playing for a year, I needed an exhibition game like that to get back into the flow of the game completely. I think this weekend will be a great stepping stone for our team and allow us to learn about ourselves and officially begin our journey together. We have a great group of team players and I am looking forward to seeing how much we have progressed since the Japan game and how much we will progress from this weekend forward."

Brit is excited to be back and we are certainly looking forward to having her contribute to the team's success this season.

One final teammate I caught up with is sophomore forward, Molly Doner. She spent much of the summer working hard alongside her teammates, improving skills and working to build off the previous season. 

"I am looking forward to starting this season's journey with my teammates." Doner said. "I spent time this summer working on my speed, quickness and confidence. By deciding to stay in Madison during the summer, I not only had the opportunity to take classes, but also to workout with my teammates whenever I wanted. When I came in last year, I was nervous and played in fear of making a mistake. Now, after a year of competitive play and another summer of hard work, my confidence has increased and I feel like I'm using my speed and playing the way I can to create opportunities." 

Doner summed up the attitude of the entire squad heading into this weekend: excited, prepared, and confident. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at LaBahn Arena. We hope to see a packed building, as this weekend is the beginning of our journey to great things this season.

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: An action-packed weekend

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It seems like every post I write about how exciting a time the team has had; only to trump the last post with the new one...well this time is no different. The UW women's hockey team had nothing short of a fun packed time this past weekend during our team bonding event a few miles out of town. 

After the premier of Grey's Anatomy watched by a majority of the team on the big screen in our locker room Thursday night, we had a nice spa recovery day on Friday to prepare us for the harsh battle to come Saturday morning. At 9 a.m. Saturday, the players piled in to cars and headed out to a paintball facility, where we played six games of paintball. Coach Johnson, Paul Hickman, seniors and freshmen were on one team, and the rest of the staff, juniors, and sophomores were on the other. The tournament of six games had a rocky start for the senior and freshman team, as we quickly fell to the other squad in the first speed ball game, and the second that took place in a trenched fort. The third game showed patience from my senior squad however, and we made it a 2-1 game as we captured the castle and held our ground for the three minutes required. 

After the third game, Coach Johnson had enough, and headed to the sidelines. He was an asset for our team, but after his departure our team rallied to sweep the final three games. We took the castle again, and defeated the juniors and sophomores in the painful game of double shot elimination. We had a few players with happy triggers, so we went through about ten boxes of paint. Luckily for the senior led team, Paul Hickman carried some extra hoppers so we were never low on ammo. 

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The MVP of the paintball tournament would have to be sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke. Although junior forward, Blayre Turnbull, pictured above covered in pink paint, took a fair beating and put up a good fight, Courtney got pelted with about 15 paintballs simultaneously from a good 15 feet away. She wobbled a bit and may have fallen to the ground, but she rallied and played on. There was some question of sportsmanship and the twenty-foot surrender rule, but the senior/freshman squad was simply trying to defend the castle, and made a good judgment call in my opinion to win the game. (Sorry Court!)

After a solid two and a half hours of paintball, we headed out to Coach Johnson's for the annual team BBQ. It was a blast as always, and the food was spectacular as Coach is a master-griller, Coach Jackie Friesen is also a great cook, as we all think was Martha Stewart (with organic recipes of course) in her previous life, so there were a wide variety of goodies to choose from. Coach Jackie showed up with a dessert that looked like it hopped off the page of a cooking magazine. It was a combination of homemade gingerbread, homemade whipped cream, and homemade pumpkin pudding, and it was delicious! 

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The BBQ also is the location of the competitive team volleyball tournament. There are no real rules other than having seniors win, so naturally the seniors (shown above) took the title after defeating the freshmen by a ten point spread in the first game and handily defeating the juniors in the championship, 25-0. The MVP of the volleyball tournament is tough to decide on, but I think it would have to be a tie between senior goaltender Ilana Friedman and myself. Senior Natalie Berg had a mighty serve, and Kelly Jaminski's height was a major asset as well. Alex Rigsby was fantastic all over the grass court, but there is no denying that Ilana and I really stepped up big and helped our team secure the victory.

 In a post game interview with Alex Rigsby, she stated she was a bit upset with freshmen officials Sarah Nurse and Sydney McKibbon, as well as head official Courtney Burke, but when asked to comment on their apparent bias during the match, the officials declined to give a quote. Non the less, the seniors stepped up and won the championship, making the Saturday bonding all the more memorable for our class. 

Sunday was a relaxing off day for the group, as we took our team picture and many participated in a walk that junior Brittany Ammerman was active and passionate about promoting. It was a walk around the capital that promoted the end of GYN cancers, and was a success! 

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Also, junior forward Katy Josephs and myself volunteered to help out with the Timberwolves hockey team practice at Madison Ice Arena. It was a collection of players from around the Madison area, and it was a great experience. Both these events were awesome for all involved, and I speak for the group when I say we are always humbled and appreciative when we are able to give back to a community that has always been supportive of our endeavors. 

Overall, it was a great weekend, and a great way to head into the week in preparation for Minnesota State. The group is enthusiastic, positive, and excited for what the future holds as we prepare to embark on our journey through the season. The preseason has been great, but now the work begins, and we are ready to go! 

Until next time, thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Packer's Perspective: First step for the Badgers

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Monday night was full of excitement and I want to thank all the fans who came out and supported the Badgers in our first showing of the season. Congratulations to Brittany Ammerman in her first game back since being out for almost the entire season last year, and also to the freshmen Ann Renee Desbiens, Sydney McKibbon, Sarah Nurse, and Mellissa Channell on their first game as Badgers. 

The freshies proved to be a solid fit for us from the crease all the way to the offensive zone and we look forward to having them contribute this season. The freshmen were also happy with the way their first game went, and were thrilled with having their first experience finally here. 

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"It was an amazing feeling being able to put on the Wisconsin jersey and play in my first game," Sydney McKibbon said.  "I was surprised stepping out on the ice and seeing all the fans that were there to support us and cheer us on. I was definitely a little nervous at first but once our line settled in it was such a fun game. I can't wait to play next weekend in our first season game against Minnesota State." 

McKibbon's good friend, and roommate, freshman defenseman Mellissa Channell had similar emotions.

"Stepping on the ice the first time was incredible," Channell said. "You could feel how high the energy was in the building. The first couple shifts I was a little nervous, but having such a supportive team that feeling went away. Now that I have the first game under my belt I can't wait to get the season going, and begin the journey with the team." 

One freshman the fans may not know yet, is Jenny Ryan. However, this is a name you will want to familiarize yourself with as she too is sure to be an asset for us this year on defense. Jenny is set to return to the ice with us soon and is excited for her college career to begin.

 "I'm looking forward to putting the jersey on for the first time and feeling the excitement of being with the team," Ryan said. "I'm expecting to be a little bit nervous seeing that I haven't played in a while and this is a little bit different than what I am used to playing, but I think that once I get out there I will be too excited to be nervous and it will be a lot of fun."

 I couldn't agree more with Jenny as it will be a lot of fun to have her out there with us and we look forward to the depth that will accompany her as she takes her place back in the line up!

The team had a great showing all around, especially considering we only had two practices against our belt to prepare for a team we have never seen before. We were moving the puck well, communicating with one another, and accomplished our team goal of playing together for a solid 60 minutes. The team was happy with our first performance, but also will use this as a learning tool as we prepare to kick off our WCHA season next weekend against Minnesota State. 

With the motivation of the regular season in mind, we went right back at it Tuesday, competing in a high level practice to try and simulate a game weekend in our typical schedule. We had a good on ice session with the coaches and then hit the weight room to improve our fitness and agility off the ice. Wednesday will be used as a recovery day. Some hot and cold tub contrast, and the ladies are looking forward to reopening the sauna that is an always a good place to relax and socialize. 

This week will finish off with us back on the ice Thursday and Friday, and then we will head out for a team bonding activity Saturday. The team bonding this year is paintball...with a competitive group like the one we have, I am anxious to see how it goes. The coaches also participate in this activity and it's always fun when Coach Johnson starts firing paintballs at you like Rambo! The paintball activity is one we have done in the past and is a fun change of pace from our typical on ice endeavors. 

Following paintball, we will have our annual team BBQ. This is a much anticipated event, especially for the seniors since the volleyball tournament that takes place each year is always won by the senior class (not saying its rigged or anything). The BBQ is a fun time to hang out, relax, eat some good food, and cheer on the Badger football team as they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

This weekend is a nice way to close out the preseason before we hit it hard next week in preparation for Minnesota State. We have a hard working group, with various assets across the board, and are anxious to start the season together. We have a long journey ahead of us, but the positivity and mentality of our group thus far is looking to be a major bonus as we head into the year. Thank you to all the fans who have supported us, and those who came out Monday to cheer us on. We kick off the regular season on Friday, October 4th at 7 p.m. against the Mavericks and hope all who can make it will come out to support us on our journey. Thanks for reading.

On Wisconsin!

- Madison
ON WISCONSIN